Thurs. Jan. 17, 2019: Ideas Come Even While Sick

Thursday, January 17, 2019
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

I’m still sick. Which means I’m behind on everything.

I had to cancel client work yesterday. There was no way I could go on site, without a voice, and hacking up a lung every few minutes.

I stayed in bed, reading, all morning. Reading for pleasure, and nothing that required too much concentration. In between dozing off now and again.

In the afternoon, I went over the radio script revision one last time. The original director wanted a minor character cut, so that’s what I did; the new director (the one I get on well with) liked him, so I put him back in and I also added him into the last scene.

Smoothed things over, did a few proofreads, and then, the pain-in-the-ass bit — added the line numbers.

You can’t format Word (or Pages) to put in the line numbers the way they’re needed. I don’t have Final Draft software for my old Mac, but I hear you can’t format that for radio scripts, either.

Which means adding the lines by hand on each line, and changing the spacing.

When I’m forced to work in line-numbered scripts for radio, I put the lines in last, because any revisions screw up the lines. You can’t just change one thing and have it adjust. It has to happen manually.

It’s a major pain in the ass, not to mention a time drain. Usually, it falls to the production manager to finalize the format on the production script (having held that role in multiple productions, yes, it fell to me). But smaller companies make the writer do it.

So I did it, and the script goes off today. I also did some dramaturgy.

And when I proofed it, right before sending, there were major line mistakes, so I had to do it all over again. I HATE NUMBERED SCRIPTS.

It makes me eager to get back to reworking the stage play into a full-length, rather than a one-act. There were so many layers in this particular undercover operation.

I wound up not sending a proposal to a particular summer conference because I was too sick to word it properly, and because it interfered with another conference I want to attend in DC a few days earlier. Rather than split my time and lose four days out of a week travelling to try to get a couple of days at each conference, I’m only going to one.

I’ve been asked to speak at the Writers Night Out in May; I will send my acceptance today. It was nice of them to think of me. I’ll have to make sure my handouts are up to date.

Did a little bit of noodling with a new idea. Not quite new — I’ve been working on variations of this for years. Sort of gothic, but with a twist and some comedy. It might never go anywhere, but lying in bed feeling miserable made me remember all those gothic-style books about invalids and governesses and brooding fathers and cliff top mansions.

I need to get some groceries in before tonight’s storm, but I’m not really well enough to do much of anything else. I have to finish a book for review. I need to get started on the contest entries. I have galleys to work on.

I’ll be glad when all the galleys are done and the books are ready to go, and I can work on the next Coventina Circle novel. It’s GRAVE REACH, Lesley’s book, and we already have the cover!

I didn’t do my weight training this morning because just picking up the weights exhausted me. Hopefully, I’ll feel up to it later in the day. I don’t want to start skipping. I did my morning yoga and meditation. Although I stuck to my meditation practice yesterday, I didn’t do yoga.

But I do get tired quickly. Pushing hard on the radio play yesterday took a lot out of me physically, although it was good for me mentally. I have to take it easy, or I’ll get sicker again. My whole body aches from coughing.

It will be nice when I’m not coughing all the time, too. So much for Robitussin’s 12 hour cough relief. I’m lucky if it works for 2. It’s not like I take it often, either. Maybe once a year. When they charge $16 for a small bottle, it damn well should work.

I miss Contact Cold Medicine and their “tiny time pills.” That always worked the best for me.

I have to get ahead on some blog posts, and then it’s back to the page for me.

 

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Tues. Jan. 8, 2019: Please, Just Let Me Rest

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
No Retrogrades

I’d forgotten what it feels like not to have retrogrades.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise for my take on “The Book Boyfriend Dilemma.”

Busy few days, and it was a little overwhelming. Friday morning was stressful with a client, then I had some errands in the afternoon. I ended up buying some clothes to freshen up my wardrobe, some pants and skirts. I need to have a bit more of a polished look this year.

When I’m writing at home, I can wear whatever I want (usually yoga clothes, never pajamas. I can’t write in pajamas). But when I actually have to leave the house, I need and want to look professional, even if it’s not to a formal meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived on Friday, a day early, so that was a fun treat.

Saturday morning, I had errands — and wound up doing more clothes shopping — more pants and a few jackets. So I’m all set for the coming season.

Got two sets of notes on the radio play — which they claim they originally sent early in December, and I never received them. I had a conversation months ago, when they claimed they’d sent me something and I had never received it, which is why they didn’t get a response — if I don’t respond in 2-3 business days, it means I didn’t get it, and please follow up. I can’t respond if I don’t know they need something. Which they did not do, again. Now, they want a new draft in a little over two weeks. When I should have had seven.

I’m all signed up for a conference at which I’m a presenter — the schedule hasn’t officially been released yet, so I can’t give out the details. I will, as soon as I get the okay. Got a pitch for another radio play out (to a different company).

Started taking down the decorations. It took me a month to get them up; I don’t know why I thought I could get them down in an afternoon. And I used enough florists’ wire to build a small city.

Got some writing done, and some work on galleys. Not enough, I’m behind, and it frustrates me.

Got yet more contradictory information on my health insurance. I now have four sets of documents, all which contradict each other. I’m turning the whole mess over to Elizabeth Warren’s office. Don’t ever believe the marketing crap that health coverage in the state of Massachusetts works. It shouldn’t cost me several hundred dollars in repeatedly having to send documents via certified mail (which they always claim they never received, even when I have proof) and dozens of lost work hours every year to sign up for health coverage — all with the threat that I’ll have to pay a fine WHEN THEY SCREW IT UP EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Single payer. Anything else is just stupid.

Exhausted on Sunday. Had trouble getting going. Working on finishing up a book for review. Had to do some client work that I couldn’t get finished last week, and which had to be done by Monday.

Worked on taking down decorations. Still not done. The tree only has lights left on it, but it will be another day or two before I can get them off and take the tree apart. I haven’t even stripped the tree in my office of ornaments yet.

I’m just unbelievably exhausted, and don’t see any option for rest coming up. It’s not about sleep. It’s about rest.

Sunday night was a fancy dress party. The reason I’d been shopping earlier in the weekend was to find a dress for this party. I didn’t find one, although I found pieces to freshen my wardrobe. But it turns out that I could fit into my favorite navy blue velvet evening gown. I paired it with my new blue suede pumps, thigh-high stockings (I’m sticking to my resolution not to wear pantyhose anymore), a multi-colored velvet wrap, elbow-length red velvet gloves, and I had my hair up with a tiara. I was pretty pleased with the effect.

The party was fun. It was at a restaurant in Hyannis. There was live music, a dance floor. I had a few glasses of Prosecco, danced, talked to people I knew and didn’t.

When I got home, I changed into pajamas and made scrambled eggs and ham for a late, light supper.

Monday was spent in client work, a couple of other appointments, and then a new meditation class. I desperately, desperately needed it.

I was exhausted when I woke up on Monday, but proud of myself for sticking to the weight training. I do the weights before I do yoga, and that works much better. I used to do it the other way around, and it didn’t work.

My printer is acting up – just when I have A LOT that needs to be done in the next few days. I’m trying to replace the drum and hope that solves it; otherwise, I have to buy a new printer.

With a client today and tomorrow. Thursday, I start digging into the radio script revisions, and focus on some of the other writing.

Usually, even when I’m too tired to physically write much, I can work out plot points and story themes. But I’m so physically and mentally spent that I can’t even string two silent thoughts together. It’s very hard to be vocally coherent with clients.

And maybe, MAYBE this coming weekend, I can get some rest.

I’m going to figure out where I can take a few days off, either later this month, or early next month.

I still have two books coming out quickly that need to be marketed; and get back in the groove of GRAVE REACH, which comes out near the end of the year. And the plays. This year is about a lot of scripts.

I also have to get the registration of the websites shifted over to Name Silo. That means the sites will probably go down for a bit, as 1&1 tries to sabotage the transfer. But I’m happy with A2 as my host, and I want Name Silo to hold the registration. I want to finally be free of 1&1 for good. I wish I’d had the courage and the knowledge to leave them years ago. It’s cost me thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

But most of all, most of all, I am desperate for some rest.

Tues. Oct. 16, 2018: Creating and Other Busy Times

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Sorry I didn’t blog on Friday. I never even made it out of the house. We had bad storms, so I wasn’t online, and cancelled out of my appointments. I’m lucky I didn’t have to be out in that weather.

I stayed in and worked on the RELICS revision, and re-worked the first chapter of Coventina Circle #4, GRAVE REACH, which is Lesley’s story. It took 14 hours, but it was good work, and, when I finally could get online, it went out to my editor.

Now we’re in galleys. It’s a very tight turnaround, since the book releases this month, but the revision cycles we did for this make me feel good about the book. If we worked in print, it wouldn’t be possible to stay on this schedule.

Finished, polished, and sent the review I was working on. Worked on Friday’s speech.

Worked on the Women Write Change forum. We have a few new members. It’s going to take awhile to spread the word. And that’s okay. The point is to have a contained creative space with like-minded women, giving participating artists freedom to create.

One of my main email addresses on the fearlessink site was hacked, with the same threats. So now it’s about filing the paperwork, temporarily suspending the address, etc. I’m working with Submittable to merge my account under that address with my main personal email address, which is simpler.

This is on 1&1. They are punishing me for moving hosts by lowering security. They dragged their feet so I couldn’t move the domain registrations before they renewed, and now, until I can move over to Name Silo, I’m going to have these problems. They’re just awful. I will be glad when I’m disentangled them for good.

The weather was dreadful all weekend, except for Sunday, when I couldn’t work in the yard, so I didn’t get the yard work done. I’m trying to find a place to get a decent oil change around here. When did it become such a big deal to get a basic oil change? This area has really devolved in the past few years.

Client work yesterday was challenging, and I’m sure it will be today and tomorrow.

All I really want to do is finish the galleys, start the promotion for RELICS, and prep for Friday’s speech.

DAVY JONES DHARMA and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE are chugging along. I think DAVY JONES, in particular, will be lots of fun. BALTHAZAAR has a few surprises in store that will shake readers.

I keep making notes for GRAVE REACH, which is percolating nicely, too. I have a very basic outline for it, done when I outlined the series. It won’t come out until next October; two books a year from this series is too tight a schedule right now. I’m happy with the first chapter, though. It hits some good points.

Developing some ideas that I want to work on for Women Write Change, in addition to the revision on HEART SNATCHER and researching the anti-gun violence play. I’m not sure if it will be a series of short pieces, or feed into something bigger. They’re mostly to blow off steam and frustration, but, after that initial cathartic draft, maybe I’ll have something that can be shaped into a viable piece.

I’m also playing with what I hope will be a flash fiction about solitary confinement.

I’m reading a wonderful book by Mary Gabriel called NINTH STREET WOMEN, about five women painters whose work changed the art landscape. It’s relevant to Women Write Change.

Back to the page.

Published in: on October 16, 2018 at 1:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 16, 2018: Creating and Other Busy Times  
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Tues. Sept. 11, 2018: Sad Anniversary; Steady Work

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about Andrew Singer’s wonderful memoir, China Sings To Me.

The 17th Anniversary of 9/11. I knew a lot of people who died that day. I still grieve. I perform my own ceremony of remembrance.

I get annoyed when people book social events, etc. on this day, but it’s not up to me. What is up to me is not engaging, and keeping it a day of remembrance in the way that works for me. People have the right to live their lives. I have the right to live mine.

For me, this day is about remembrance, commitment to those for whom I care, and trying to figure out how to make the world a better place that’s not fear-based. I have a long way to go, but at least I put in the work.

There was some sort of stomach bug prevalent in the house over the last few days. I had trouble Thursday and Saturday; my mom was sick Saturday into Sunday.

I managed to finish this draft of RELICS on Saturday night and get it off to my editor. I’ll get editing notes back later this week, turn it around, and then we go into galleys.

Meanwhile, DAVY JONES DHARMA moves into the Priority slot, with BALTHAZAAR TREASURE moving back into the secondary slot (out of the “I’ll work on it whenever” slot). CRAVE THE HUNT and the rest of what used to be POWER OF WORDS are in the “whenever” slot, and I’m percolating the opening chapter of GRAVE REACH, which goes into the back of RELICS.

GRAVE REACH is outlined, but I’m on a tight schedule for it, and have to get cracking. That will also be in a “whenever” slots.

I read some nonfiction books by an author whose work I’ve followed for decades. Some of her work resonates with me; some does not. She is not someone I want to meet or work with, though. Too many of her quirks annoy me: they’re not honest or endearing; I find them selfish and hypocritical.

But then, as someone pointed out a couple of years ago, we all have areas in which we’re hypocrites. We simply choose our level of hypocrisy. I’m trying to narrow those areas in my own life. Again, work in progress.

Also read an urban fantasy novel by a new-to-me author. I’d read one of her short stories in an anthology and liked it, so I figured I’d try a full-length book. The only book I could get from the library was in the middle of the series. Loved the action. Although, after awhile, it was too much action and not enough happening in between. The sex scenes were necessary to drive the plot, and were pretty well written, but ten pages plus, in my opinion, is too long in this case. Some of the best development of supporting characters I’ve seen in a long time. I wasn’t so thrilled about the protagonist. This was book six and she was in a place I’d have expected in the middle of book one or maybe book two. She doesn’t make a mistake once and then learn from it. She makes it five or six times, finds a solution by accident, but doesn’t apply it moving forward. That bothers me. She found out information and, at the end, it looked like she evolved, but when I read the reviews for the next few books in the series, it seems like she’s doing same old, same old. Also, according to the reviews, the cliffhanger set up at the end of this book still isn’t resolved two books down. I’m not sure I’m willing to go ahead indefinitely with constant cliffhangers, so that each book is like an overlong chapter. Especially since the cliffhanger involves the character that was my favorite in the book.

I rarely use reviews to make a decision about whether or not to read a book, but I had suspicions about where this was going, and wasn’t sure I wanted to put time into it, which is why I hunted down the reviews. I’m on the fence. If I can come across the next two books easily via the commonwealth catalogue or something (they’re not in CLAMS), I’ll try them.

Then I feel guilty, because I should support my fellow writers. However, this woman has plenty of sales — mine won’t matter! And, since a library book is a sale for her, it works all around.

I was really disgusted by the way Serena Williams was treated at the US Open. Men get away with questioning the umpire, but heaven forbid a woman, especially a talented black woman, do the same. The crowd also treated Naomi Osaka terribly. It should have been a glorious day for her, not a misogynistic one.

With Hurricane Florence a threat, I have to finish what I’m doing, cleaning-up wise, on the deck in the next few days. Here I’d hoped I’d have until nearly the end of October to use the deck as a staging area as I clean out, but I guess not.

Rehearsing for the reading, working on the calendar articles.

Onsite client work yesterday, today, tomorrow. Trying to find a new angle for the current and upcoming collections.

The newsletter went out on Friday, with cover reveals for the next three books. Next newsletter is December’s.

Working on my sell sheet for the weekend (and beyond), too.

Sent off a guest blog post. Working on the calendar articles. I want them done by the end of the month.

Got an idea from some of the non-fiction reading I’ve been doing for a novel. Playing with the setting, characters, themes, plot. We’ll see.

Working on the book I have to review.

Working. Working. Working.

I like it.

 

Published in: on September 11, 2018 at 3:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. Sept. 11, 2018: Sad Anniversary; Steady Work  
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Fri. Aug. 31, 2018: A Flying Poodle & Beer Nuts

Friday, August 31, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Finally, a break in the heat and humidity.

August wrap up is up on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. September’s To-Do List won’t go up until Wednesday.

Yesterday, after I was done at the library, I went to the liquor store (of course I did). Or, as we call it here, “the Package store.” Two Ladies of Certain Age were in there. Old-school, with wigs, dark make-up, oversized sunglasses, blinding cocktail rings. One of them had a male, black, toy poodle on a leash. They’re either having a party or they plan to be drunk for the next five days, because in addition to one woman with a full shopping cart of bottles and the other woman’s arms full of vodka bottles, a staff member had two cases of wine on a hand truck. Good customers, nice sale.

I’m about to step up to the next counter with my own bottle of vodka when the poodle yanks his leash out of his human’s grip and leaps into the air at me. I tossed my vodka bottle to the clerk, who caught it like an infielder, and the poodle landed in my arms, whereupon he wriggled with joy and licked my face.

The woman was embarrassed, but I told her no problem, I love dogs, and it was an honor that he wanted to make friends. I put him down and she pulled him back to her counter so she could finish paying.

Only there are rows of snacks under the counter.

So the poodle grabbed a bag of beer nuts. Which he shouldn’t have. The two women and several employees were alternately trying to scold and coax him to drop the beer nuts. But he’s got it by the corner of the packet, backing away and growling at anyone who comes near.

I got on my knees (technically Hero Pose in yoga, with my feet tucked under) and the poodle bounced over to me. I held out my hand and asked, “Will you share?” He dropped the bag onto my lap and did that two-step bounce back dogs so often do when they bring you something. I told him he was a good boy and he danced around, wagging his tail, happy as could be.

It was hilarious.

I didn’t keep the nuts.
When I came home smelling of boy poodle, both Tessa and Lucy were displeased, so I had to scrub the poodle scent off.

I’m reading the anthology WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, and enjoying. Donna Andrews has a great story in it called “The Haire of the Beast.” I laughed out loud when I read it.

Managed to unpack four basement boxes yesterday. Sorted some stuff, found some really cool stuff, am airing out and cleaning some things, and there’s stuff to throw out. Slowly, but surely, if I keep at it, I’ll get the whole thing tackled and done. I should have been doing it since we moved in, but should have doesn’t solve anything. I’m now DOING.

Percolating some story ideas as I work. We’ll see what happens. Fitting them into the schedule is the big thing right now.

Ari Meghlen needs the blog post earlier than expected, because of a schedule change, so I will write it this weekend and get it out early next week.

Finishing this draft of RELICS is on the agenda, making good progress on DHARAMA and calendar articles. More box-purging, and sorting and integrating what I’ve unpacked that I’m keeping so far. Writing ahead on the month’s posts for Upbeat Authors and for Ink-Dipped Advice. Doing yard work, if it’s not too hot. Meditating.

It’s interesting how GRAVE REACH, the fourth and next Coventina Circle book, is taking more and more shape the closer I get to the end of RELICS. I’ll revisit the outline for it shortly.

Hopefully, I’ll also have some time for relaxing!

I hope you have a great weekend!

 

Wed. June 6, 2018: One Project Out, Another Moves Up

Wednesday, June 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to read why “My Rolodex Isn’t Free.”

MYTH & INTERPRETATION went out to my editor yesterday morning. I look forward to her comments. It’s a fast-paced novella that seeds conflicts that will grow in BALTHAZAAR.

On Monday afternoon, we looked at the four cover choices. They were all wildly different and quite beautiful. Each evoked something different. After much discussion, we decided on what will be the cover — both eye-catching and supports the novella.

So now, the primary focus goes back to RELICS & REQUIEM, and I’m excited. I love Amanda. I think she and Phineas will make an odd, if good team. GRAVE REACH (Coventina Circle #4) is already spinning, and I’m making notes in and around RELICS, because things from SPIRIT REPOSITORY and RELICS cause incidents in GRAVE REACH.

I have most of RELICS outlined; I’m going to write a few more chapters, then finish the outline and send it to my editor for comments as I draft; I hope we’ll have some of the same process to streamline as we did for MYTH.

I’d like both RELICS and GRAVE REACH to be close to 80K. And I’d like to keep Sylvie’s book lean, too. When we hit Diana’s book, it will sprawl a bit — I have a lot to weave in there. So the vision for Coventina Circle is pretty clear, with room for inspiration.

I want to get a lot of RELICS under my belt, because pretty soon, it’s time to turn attention to DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Never a dull moment.

Exhausting day with the client, doing IT work above my pay grade. I look forward to yoga tomorrow.

 

Published in: on June 6, 2018 at 2:32 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 6, 2018: One Project Out, Another Moves Up  
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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.